Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

Betsy DeVos Approves 11 ESSA Plans, Including New York’s
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos approved 11 state ESSA plans on Tuesday: Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Here are some highlights of each plan, as submitted for approval: Arkansas: The state proposed to assign schools letter grade on an A through F scale in the ESSA plan it submitted to the department. In its feedback to the state, the department told Arkansas it needed to do a better job of explaining its indicator of school quality or student success. (Education Week)

As Oral Arguments Near in Landmark Janus Case, Both Sides Prepare for Possible End to Mandatory Union Dues
Union advocates and their opponents are contemplating an end to mandatory dues payments by teachers and other public sector workers, six weeks before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a key case. The Supreme Court on February 26 will hear oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case that asks justices whether requiring public employees to pay at least some part of union dues, as they must in about half of states, violates their First Amendment rights. (The 74)

DeVos Hits Bush, Obama on Education Policy
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos took to task previous administrations – both Democratic and Republican – for taking too heavy-handed an approach in driving education policy, resulting in stagnant academic achievement despite billions of federal dollars spent. “Politicians from both parties just can’t help themselves,” she said. “They have talked about painting education in new colors and even broader strokes. But each time, reform has not fundamentally changed the system. Each attempt has really just been a new coat of paint on the same old wall.” (U.S. News & World Report)

What If A Missile Scare Happened On A School Day?
If there was any bit of relief from the recent missile alert scare for families in Hawaii, it was that it took place on a Saturday morning when many kids were at home. But what would have happened if the alert had occurred during school hours? It’s a question that has weighed on the minds of educators and parents in the aftermath of the bizarre blunder that took 38 minutes to officially correct and caused Hawaii state officials to scramble to provide answers and get their messaging straight. (Honolulu Civil Beat)

North Carolina
Groups urge CMS to get cracking on equal opportunity. Here’s the new boss’ response.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is overdue to put serious scrutiny on schools that shortchange low-income and African-American students, two civic groups and half a dozen black ministers told the school board this week. “You sit at the crossroad. You are responsible,” the Rev. Jordan Boyd of Rockwell AME Zion Church said. “If we fail, if our children fail, we will all reap the consequences.” (The Charlotte Observer)

Dorsey Hopson says he’s willing to give charters control of schools, if they have a plan for improvement
After years of resisting the growth of charter schools in Memphis, Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said he is willing to voluntarily relinquish control over some struggling schools to be operated by private charter groups. Such a move would be a seismic shift both in the district’s attitude toward charter schools as well as the methods used locally to improve poorly performing schools. (Commercial Appeal)

More than 300 education-related bills have been filed in the 2018 General Assembly session. Here are some to watch
As the General Assembly enters its first full week of the session Monday, legislators are set to consider more than 300 education-related bills. State senators and delegates had filed upward of 300 education-related bills as of Sunday, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit tracker of state politics. Legislators have until the end of the week to file bills. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Mimi Woldeyohannes is the Executive Assistant to the CEO at 50CAN. She lives in Maryland.


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